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Why the blackbird?

The blackbird, the raven, the crow. What is the fascination with these dark birds? Many martial arts have fierce iconography of powerful and aggressive animals; the tiger, panther, dragon, snake, and other similar animals. In comparison the raven is a far less aggressive image, not nearly as large as the eagle, not as powerful as the crane, nor as fast as the falcon. Instead, the raven succeeds through the use of the mind; it is the most skilled toolmaker in the animal kingdom outside of humans. In various mythology he is the trickster, he is thought, he is memory, he is wisdom, he is a healer, and particularly pertinent to the martial arts, he is an omen of war and battle.

While strength and speed are two vital attributes for the martial artist to have, it is within the subtle misdirection, the unbalancing, and the unseen attack that the so-called “secrets” of martial arts are found. It is the mind that guides the development of these traits, so if I must choose one icon, it will be Raven.